A Nigerian architect who's recreating the way Africans live around water - CNBC Africa

A Nigerian architect who's recreating the way Africans live around water

Western Africa

by Tendai Dube 0

Looking at ways of improving the lives of people in Lagos, "through one of its most important assets - water". Photo: Wikipedia

Rising sea levels in some of Africa's largest cities are leaving water slum residents vulnerable to flooding, this is according to Kunle Adeyemi, developer of the Makoko Floating School, an innovative new form of architecture that could revolutionise water communities in Nigeria.

Adeyemi has been looking at ways of developing communities and cities and settlements that are by water to improve the quality of life there and create a new urban environment, he says.

"We are beginning to see more and more cities being affected by flooding, being affected by the impact of climate change and the growth in cities,” said the founder of NLE.


A little over two years ago Adeyemi founded the Makoko Floating School.

"Makoko Floating School was completed two and a half years ago and since then we have taken it through a number of testing and seen how it performs under different weather conditions, how the community used it and carried out several upgrades.”

Adeyemi says it has also given the government the opportunity to assess the building. The response has been positive so far, he says. It acknowledged the floating school in a media briefing earlier in the year as a prototype for other developements in the development and regeneration of the Makoro community, he adds.

"I think we have made a good start and with the support and interests that have been shown from all over the world for the project, it’s given it a lot of credibility that this is actually a way forward in terms of sustainability,” Adeyemi said.

The hope is to rollout the conversation to the Lagos state government and then develop other water front communities just like the Makoko community.

“To look at ways of improving the lives and the living in Lagos, through one of its most important assets - water.”

Adeyemi calls it his passion because he has realised that nearly 70 per cent of all major capital cities in the world are by water.

“And these are cities that have been growing rapidly - so they are urbanising quite rapidly, for me the relationship between water and cities is almost a natural thing,

He thinks that is something we need to start rethinking - especially in the age of rapid urbanisation and climate change.

He also acknowledges the process and how much cultural reorientation and infrastructure development that needs to be done to support that.

Currently he is teaching a research and design programme at the Cornell University in the United States.

“My students and I are looking at Lagos with focus now because we have the interest in ensuring that we also provide solutions and some of the projects are looking into these kinds of things, waters ways, the networks, connectivity, providing the infrastructure, developing architecture, commercial facilities,” he said.

Basically thinking around ways of growing a new culture for building, living and getting around on water.

Chicoco Radio is another project they are working on where they are investigating and developing ways of building around water in every way possible, “across water, along water, anything to do with the water front or on the water.”

“This is a project for a community that needed a public space to express themselves and they have a voice and it’s a space that straddles water and land - almost a bridge.”